By contributing writer Liz:
After baby number two was born, it became evident pretty quickly that if anything was ever going to get done, I was going to need some reminders. A planner, multiple to-do lists, and daily, weekly and monthly routines – all of these are helpful in making my days run semi-smoothly. Because of how much having routines in place helps me, it came as no surprise to find that having a routine also benefits my four year old son.
Today, however, I would like to share four benefits I’ve found to having a routine for your child.
1. Encourage Learning Practical Skills
Brushing teeth, helping to make lunch, cleaning up in the bath – when these types of activities are in your routine, it is easier to involve your child in them. You both know when certain activities are coming, so you can be prepared for the help of little hands.
For example, instead of quickly brushing teeth at the end of the day, you know that every day after dinner is time to get ready for bed, allowing for time to include your child in the process without feeling rushed. Being able to learn these types of skills is very important for your child’s development, not to mention it gives them a great sense of accomplishment.
2. Promote a Safe and Secure Environment
Knowing what to expect helps them feel safe. They don’t have to worry or wonder about what is coming next, because they already know! Think about how you feel when you’ve had a crazy day, full of unexpected tasks and problems. Doesn’t it feel nice when you are back to a familiar place?
This sense of security and familiarity doesn’t just help on the average day either. It also gives your child something predicable to rely on during transitional or stressful times.
It is a lot easier to not feel as much of the stress associated with moving, family problems, the birth of a new baby, or the start of a new job when your child’s days continue in the same familiar pattern.
3. Improved Behavior
There are many ways that having a routine that help improve the behavior of your child. The first is that a routine can eliminate power struggles. Instead of constantly being the one to tell your child what it is time to do, you can just point to the routine to see what is next in the day. It moves from “you are doing this because I told you” to “we are doing this because it is just what comes next in the day.” Because your child has advance warning of what is coming next, there is often less resistance during those transitional moments.
Another benefit of having a routine is that your child will often choose to independently move onto that next activity. Knowing their schedule beforehand gives a child just enough knowledge and ownership that he or she is more likely to independently desire to move through their personal schedule.
One more way having a routine can help with behavior is that it can provide a visual of rewards to be given or taken away. We kept our routine on the fridge and I would write down what fun things we were planning to do later in the day. This meant that my son had something to look forward to, but it also meant that I had a very visual way of taking that privilege away as a consequence for bad behavior.
4. Accountability for You
This is actually the main reason I originally created a routine for my son. I knew there were things I wanted to do with him, but they kept getting pushed off in the hustle and bustle of the day. Being able to add those things to his routine made it a lot more likely that they would actually happen. And let me tell you, do you have something fun that you want to do, but keep forgetting? Put it on the routine – your child sure won’t let you forget!
Are you thinking that starting a daily routine with your child is something that would benefit you? I know that after the craziness of the holiday’s, I am looking forward to starting fresh again with a solid routine in the New Year.
Printable Routine for Preschoolers
If you are looking for a way to visually represent your new routine, check out my free printable routine for preschoolers! I knew I wanted a routine that was flexible, that could easily be moved around, added to, and taken away from. What I came up with ended up working out really well and I bet it will work great for you too! Go here to learn more.
What about you? Do you use a routine with your kids?